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The difference between the words personnel and personal escape many early writers and language learners. They are easy to tell apart when spoken out loud, but they are spelled similarly, so in writing they can sometimes be confusing.
Still, these words are different parts of speech, and they can never be substituted for each other. Personnel and personal are two distinct words, so continue reading to learn the difference between them.
When to Use Personal
What does personal mean? Personal is an adjective that has two main meanings. Sometimes, it describes someone’s private business, like when someone says, “that’s personal” instead of answering a question. In this sense, it is a synonym of the adjective private.
- “I wish Rashmi would stop sticking her nose into my personal affairs,” said Dr. Sindhu.
Personal can also show possession by an individual. Most people have their own personal toothbrushes that they don’t share, for instance.
- The CEO will be represented in court by a personal attorney, rather than by a member of the company’s legal department.
When personal is used in a phrase like getting personal or personal attack, it refers to an attack on someone’s character as an individual, rather than on the merits of his or her actions or beliefs.
Adjectives modify nouns, so personal describes a particular quality of various nouns, like in the phrases personal favour or personal cell phone.
- “Can you do me a personal favour? Can you keep these books in the shelves” asked the wife to her husband
In the above example, personal describes the information of specific donors. It is their information.
Pronunciation of Personal
Lastly, the word personal has stress on the first syllable when spoken out loud, like the word merciful. Try to sound out person-uhl.
When to Use Personnel
What does personnel mean? Personnel is a noun. It refers to people employed by an organization, especially in professional and military contexts.
In the military, material refers to military equipment, while personnel refers to military service members.
- Our company is having a personnel crisis because the work is dirty and often dangerous, and the employees are not responsible enough.
- Military personnel were on the scene within minutes of receiving the distress call from the abandoned station.
Pronunciation of Personnel
Trick to Remember the Difference
The main difference between personal and personnel is that the former is an adjective, while the latter is a noun.
Personnel vs. Personal Check: Since the words noun and personnel each have two N’s in them, you can use their spelling as an easy way to remember whether to use personal or personnel.
Is it personal or personnel? Personal and personnel are confusing words since they are spelled similarly.
- Personal is an adjective that means private.
- Personnel is a noun that refers to human capital.
These two words are never interchangeable: personnel is always a noun, while personal is always an adjective.
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